Customer Reviews: White Zombie: Cary Roan Special Signature Edition [Blu-ray]
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4.4 out of 5 stars
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on May 6, 2014
White Zombie doesn't sound or look like it was made yesterday, how could it? This Blu-ray isn't a spare-no-expense restoration of the camera neg of a major studio film. This is a carefully rendered, straight-forward reproduction of probably one the the only decent original 35mm print(s) in existence, of a poverty-row production. The print has shrunk, has some mottled areas in the shadows, and lines, but it also has a level of tonal range and detail I've never seen before. Some work has been done to stabilize the frame, but there is still some shifting. I suspect a lot of specs and reels-end damage has been cloned out, but there are still some light vertical lines, which can't be removed by using adjacent frames, but they have been toned-down. There are brief moments culled from lesser material, but total less than a minute or two.

The audio is clear and understandable without a hail-storm of pop and crackle, but there is still surface noise at times.

In short, Roan/VCI made what I feel were very sound judgement calls about what corrections would enhance appreciation of what they had to work with, without compromising it. Seeing WHITE ZOMBIE look this good is a real treat. This VCI Blu-ray easily bests the over-filtered misfire Kino gave us last year which attempted to morph the films appearance into something it never was.
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on September 3, 2013
White Zombie is legendary for being the first zombie movie decades before George A. Romero's Night of the Living Dead. Bela Lugosi stars in this classic horror film. White Zombie shows the birth of the legend when zombies were under Haitian voodoo spells and curses. It is also ranked in the Top 100 Horror Movies of All-Time. We get an audio commentary and over an hour of bonus material in this release. The Roan Group has been featured on Siskel & Ebert, and Leonard Maltin and Entertainment Weekly have praised The Roan Group's restoration quality. Video Watchdog writes that Roan's "White Zombie proves that a pristine image is still the most important," and Films in Review asserts, "Cary Roan has done film history a service." Coincidentally, the Roan Group legacy began in 1992 with the White Zombie laserdisc. There is also a Kino version of White Zombie on Blu-ray (sold separately) that sports subpar picture and audio quality.
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on October 29, 2013
Cary Roan (formerly of the Roan Group) has done a new 4k HD transfer of his 35mm film materials, plus I believe he has found some new materials to improve some of the scenes.
I have seen his rough transfer, before any restoration, and it will produce a very nice Blu-ray.

Cary Roan guarantees it will blow the Kino version away. (It is too bad that Kino has resorted to inferior Public Domain Blu-rays.)

Cary is also going to provide a new commentary track by Gary Don Rhodes (who wrote a book on White Zombie), plus all of the other extras from his old Laserdisc and DVD.

As for the movie itself, it is my favorite non-Dracula Lugosi film. While at a slower pace than today's films, it is quite atmospheric. Lugosi is perfect as a leader of the zombies, not too far from a Dracula type character. This is a true classic.

Update** My advance un-resrtored disc did not have the bit-rate problem the first production run had. I now have in my hands the corrected production Blu-ray which averages 35 Mbps and it looks like a sharp 35mm film!
One flaw that some may find annoying is the flicker in the first reel. The blacks in the night scenes tend to fade gray unevenly in spots, since the fading is uneven it probably presented a problem to correct in restoration. Darkening the picture would have led to crushing the blacks that have not faded leading to a loss in details. No doubt this flicker is caused by the instability of Nitrate film. The rest of the film has nice gray tones.

Theatrical re-issue trailer
Dracula (1931) trailer
Photo & Still Gallery
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on October 24, 2014
If only a major studio would get involved and spend the money needed to fully restore this 1932 classic. The VCI Roan Blu-ray looks pretty good, and this film has some great atmosphere and visuals that demand to be seen in the best possible quality. With that said, the opening looks pretty weak (but it gets far better with some shots looking extremely good as the film moves along), and, unfortunately, there is a lot of density fluctuations throughout the film. Still, this is the best way to see the movie at this time, but if only someone like Universal Pictures would do for this film what they did for their classic Blu-ray collection with the original sound versions of "Dracula," "The Mummy," and "The Invisible Man," then this film could finally shine the way that it should. So far, this VCI Roan Blu-ray seems to be the best way to see the film.
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on May 24, 2014
There are now TWO major Blu-ray editions of White Zombie. This one - the "Cary Roan Special Signature Edition" - is the one to get. The other one - the Kino Restored edition - has significantly inferior picture quality. High contrast and excessive noise-reduction filtering makes the Kino edition look like a cartoon, whereas the softer contrast and unfiltered (or perhaps just sensitively-applied filters) image of the Roan Edition makes it look as it should, like a film. If you are interested in all of the extras, just do what I did and buy BOTH editions. But if you want the movie (and not a cartoon), buy the Roan Edition.
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on April 8, 2015
I didn't know about the film until recently when I caught an article in the Los Angeles Times. I got started watching zombie film with my son who turned me on to the great George Romero. I loved the film. I think it is a great film for those of us who deeply appreciate the cinema and fine acting.

This film may not be right for those who have found zombie films with excessive CGI and thin acting skills.

It was more than I expected and that was great.
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on March 5, 2016
Four stars each for the restoration and movie itself.

The restoration is very good....there is almost no noise left in the picture. The picture is mostly clear even if the movie doesn't look as if it was recently shot. It is an old movie and it looks it. If you want the best picture possible for 'White Zombie' this is the version you want.

I think Bela Lugosi looks more sinister in this movie than any other movie he ever did, including Dracula. Simply put, he is at his best in terms of acting and looks.

I love the look of the movie but it has its flaws which prevents me from rating it 5 stars. It looks as if it was chopped a bit too short (length is just a little over an hour), this is noticeable during the scene with the visit to the witch doctor just before the protagonist gets to the castle. The climax at the end was kind of ridiculous but it definitely foreshadowed a lot of living dead movies from today where the zombies follow each other to their deaths like lemmings. However, I don't want to nit pick too much because this was one of the most interesting horror movies from the 30's.

Recommended for any fans of classic horror and of course fans of Bela Lugosi.
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on May 3, 2015
This restored print is the best I have ever seen.I bought this mainly because it has subtitles which means that for the first time ever I can understand all the dialogue. The disc is not inexpensive but for me it is well worth the money. I'm very satisfied with this bluray disc.
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on November 23, 2014
Neil Parker and his fiance, Madeline (John Harron and Madge Bellamy) travel to Haiti, where they encounter ancient customs and zombies. The couple is there to see Charles Beaumont (Robert Frazer) for a job opportunity. Unbeknownst to them, Beaumont has decided that he wants Madeline for himself! He is obsessed w/ her, and will go to any length to possess her. To this end he enlists the services of a mysterious, frightening man named Murder Legendre (Bela Lugosi- DRACULA, THE WOLF MAN, THE HUMAN MONSTER) in order to obtain Madeline by any means necessary. Legendre has a plan that even terrifies the odious Beaumont. Of course, this is where the title, WHITE ZOMBIE comes in. Needless to say, not everything goes according to plan, and no one gets what they want. However, some people get exactly what they deserve! Bela is at his peak here, displaying a sinister character that he would rarely, if ever, equal. His eyes alone are the stuff of nightmares! His glare is unforgettable! He's never been cooler or more devilish. WHITE ZOMBIE is a masterpiece of macabre horror and supernatural dread. The host of zombies are some of the best Undead in any film. Highly recommended...
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on January 19, 2015
My Goodness! First time I watched the old and classic movie like this and I'm darn impressed! I love how the special effect are done nicely (for the time in the past) ;however, it ends so abruptly though but overall it's great movie! That stare is absolutely the main signature of the movie. I like how people in the past perceived zombie in less brutal manners: neatly dressed, not cryptic nor gory. But they followed orders from the master - which I think related to the slavery theme in Haiti in the past - and don't attack mindlessly. Also, they still maintain the classic zombie feature which are empty-eye, rigid position, and stiff movement. It can be scary because the quiet theme, the vulture's cry ,and involves magic like voodoo, but overall it has the heroic (pursue to help the protagonist's wife), romantic, (the zombified wife still remembers his husband who came rescuing her)and comedy theme (like how the zombie dressed) in it. I wish the movie could be longer though.
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